Is Rock really dead?

15 May 2018 News

Many of you may or may not remember, but this debate has actually been going on since the 90s when Madonna and the whole Vogue thing (coupled with that newfangled techno music) really became a part of pop culture, but do you know what else was extremely popular in the 90s? Heavy metal, goth culture, grunge, anti-establishment Fight the Power politics, and a serious and deep strive for individualism.  Most people who weren’t alive or old enough to remember the 90s, heavy metal and grunge were considered Fringe or underground to a lot of people, (especially early on) But what has changed in the last 20 years? A lot! It shouldn’t be a surprise when I say massive global corporatism has played a large role in every aspect of our lives (among other things) and you may ask what the hell does global corporatism have to do with rock music? And the answer is honestly: everything.  An Industry that had a cash flow counted in the billions is certainly not a fringe industry, but over the course of ten years, sales were cut IN HALF (you read that right) from 14b to 6b. If you listen to music these days where does it come from? I’d be willing to guess you can trace it to one of three companies (iheart, itunes, spotify) and all of those companies are owned funded or connected to a major global bank who have their tentacles in everything you see or touch, and before you close the page thinking I’m about to go off on some conspiracy tangent  just give me another minute here,  back in the mid-to-late 90s there was a new way of doing business with terrestrial radio it is what is known as payola> https://en.Wikipedia.Org/wiki/Payola <Some would arguably say that this business practice was directly responsible for the popularity of bands such as Creed and Nickelback (Nickelback bashing is lame btw) bands that in my personal opinion should have been no more than simple one or two hit wonders but somehow we’re completely shoved down everyone’s throat every time they turned on the TV or the radio and many of us especially those who worked in radio at the time either didn’t mind those bands or outright hated them. When the early 2000s came around many in the industry were at a complete loss, there were all of these really heavy bands popping up out of nowhere, but the industry seemingly wanted nothing to do with them, the music industry kept pushing for what it thought the public wanted and ignored bands like Killswitch Engage, Bullet for My Valentine, Sevendust, and Meshuggah, many of us made fun of the emo kid, but at that time we didn’t really see the forest for the trees, while everyone else was Blowing Rock and metal off as something that had come and gone there were Millions of fans who still wanted teethin their music, who still wanted brutal raw emotion, and as we transitioned from the CD to Napster the whole entire thing was turned on its head, and after many years of putting lipstick on a pig we finally got wise to what the industry was doing, the problem is, we were caught with our pants down.

As the reality show took off, and the internet became a new plaything for many people, we started huddling indoors more often, we started playing MMORPGs and watching our DVR, not to mention the fact that a lot of Metal and Rock recordings have been pretty bad overall for the last 15 years or so, (of course there are many exceptions).  The new age of Pro Tools (computer recording) ushered in an era of bigger kick drums, perfectly placed snares, quantized guitars, pitch corrected singing, and all of these things are nothing short of amazing, the simple fact that we have the ability to make so-called perfect recordings and have perfectly photoshopped pictures should mean that the sky is the limit right?!  Well, it turns out that couldn’t be farther from the truth, and I’m not wanting to make this a purist audiophile rant, and perhaps a middle ground argument is irrelevant given the band or the situation,  it’s more than just the recording or the way a band sounds live. There are many new YouTubers who’s goal in life is to teach bands how to be better bands, and is it working? I think so, but we can’t just leave it all up to the Musicians themselves, another part of the industry that was completely lost in the fray were managers and artist development. Some of you may think that’s exactly what the problem was with Creed and Nickelback and I will be the first to immediately strike back with no, that’s not true, if it wasn’t for artist development we would never have had Dr. Feelgood or The Black Album, the kick drum sound that became the standard for all metal kicks came through artist development, a manager and a producer who was paid to be the eye in the sky so to speak for the band they worked with, someone who was capable of seeing the big picture. Because let’s face it not all artists are businessmen, as a matter of fact for some artists having that cold logical mindset of a businessman is foreign and even comes across as evil, and now more of that responsibility is in the hands of the artists and we can see the results…  the money is gone, our record industry is a cold husk, cranking out some of the worst bubblegum trash we’ve ever heard in a desperate attempt to squeeze as many pennies out of the consumer as they possibly can, not to mention the fact it’s much cheaper to develop a solo artist than four to six people in a band, so what’s my point here?

The power of distribution and promotion has shifted into the hands of the individual because of the internet, and I will say that this article isn’t necessarily just a rallying cry just for musicians or music lovers but also those types who might have been a manager or a producer or an artist developer, a promoter, a booking agent, you need to get involved as well, and many musicians need to learn not to be so stubborn, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons answered to Bob Ezrin, James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich answered to Bob Rock, Kurt Cobain and Dave Grohl answered to Butch Vig, and if you write songs for the sole purpose of making money, this article wasn’t really for you anyway. It completely goes over too many peoples heads that the music industry got it’s start by selling music, music that touched a person’s spirit, music that was interesting and thought-provoking, back then if you wanted to dance you went out, you wanted to relax and enjoy your life, you put on a record. The love of Money eclipsing the love of the art is exactly what’s wrong with our industry, money is indeed a necessity but why would I go pay the same price for a wobbly half-assed chair when there’s another guy down the street who sells sturdy plastic ones, but I’d rather hold out and buy one that’s been decorated, sanded, stained and made to last, the power is in our hands. 

-Rad Jaxon 

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